The Final Four: Ryerson’s volleyball teams

The Ryerson Rams women’s and men’s volleyball teams are off to the OUA Final Four on Friday. Standing in the way of a possible championship berth are two powerhouse McMaster Marauders teams.

On the women’s side, the Rams will look to continue the strong play they brought in their convincing back-to-back straight-set victories over Western and Guelph.

Julie Longman has been huge for Ryerson, totalling 46 digs in the last two games.

Longman had the fifth-most digs in the OUA during the regular season with 241. She also ranked fifth in digs-per-set with 3.49. Her defence will be essential in countering McMaster’s efficient hitters, who ranked second in the OUA in hitting percentage during the regular season.

On the offensive side, the Rams will continue to rely on Kate McIlmoyle to direct the action on court. The sophomore setter ranked fourth in the OUA in assists during the regular season. McIlmoyle will be key in setting up attack opportunities for Veronica Livingston and Theanna Vernon, Ryerson’s main offensive threats.

McMaster comes into the game riding a six-game winning streak. One of those wins came against Ryerson, when they dropped the Rams 3-1 on Feb. 8. Livingston was the only player to reach double digit kills for the Rams in that match.

On the men’s side, it’s a rematch of last year’s championship. Expect the Ryerson men to come out strong, as they look to avenge the 3-0 loss, which came at the hands of the Marauders in last season’s OUA championship.

This year’s McMaster team features Danny Demyanenko, the OUA player of the year, and Dave Preston, the OUA coach of the year. The Marauders went a perfect 17-0 in the regular season and their straight-sets quarter-final victory over Queen’s shows no sign of them slowing down.

The key to a Rams’ victory will be their ability to get around McMaster’s impressive blocking. McMaster ranks within the top six in each blocking category, so Ryerson will need to be tough on their attack. However, McMaster doesn’t receive or dig particularly well. They ranked 11th in digs and ninth in digs-per-set – a weakness that the Rams may be able to capitalize on.

Tasked with exposing the defensive side of McMaster will be outside hitter Lucas Coleman. He leads the team with 260 kills and ranked third in the OUA in kills during the regular season. Setter Adam Anagnostopoulos will also look to get outside hitter Brendan Kewin and middle blocker Uchenna Ofoha more involved in the offense if the Rams are to fool the McMaster blockers.

The women’s team takes the court at the University of Toronto for its game against McMaster at 8 p.m., while the men take on the Marauders on their home court at Burridge gym at 8 p.m.

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